Attention West Virginia Dog Owners

West Virginia dog owners should be aware of a fast-moving bill (SB277) that would prohibit the...

West Virginia dog owners should be aware of a fast-moving bill (SB277) that would prohibit the possession, breeding, and sale of exotic animals unless one obtains a special permit. The bill further establishes an Exotic Animal Regulation Board and grants it extensive powers, including the authority to regulate the permitting process, the operation of pet shops, and standards of care for exotic animals offered for sale. Furthermore, SB277 gives the Board the right to "seize, quarantine or destroy any animal exotic which poses a threat to humans, other animals, wildlife or the state’s agricultural or forestry industries."

Proponents claim that SB277 is intended to promote public safety and prevent the spread of disease by regulating exotic animal ownership only, not domestic pets such as dogs and cats. However, some fanciers are concerned that the broad definitions of "exotic" and "domestic" could leave them open to regulation. Additionally, they believe that the bill infringes on the property rights of responsible animal owners, and they worry that the measure represents a first step toward future government involvement in the breeding and sale of dogs.

What You Can Do:

  • SB277 has already passed the Senate and is currently in the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. Dog owners should therefore contact their Delegate to express their concerns. To find out who represents you, visit: http://www.legis.state.wv.us/districts/df.cfm.

  • For more information, contact Colby Homer (ColbyH304@aol.com).